Duterte admin’s denial of war on drugs deaths is unbelievable – HRW
The U.S. State Department and the European Parliament’s criticisms of the Philippine government’s anti-illegal drug campaign are all but proof that “no one is buying” President Rodrigo Duterte’s denials over the deaths linked to the crackdown, a New York-based rights watchdog said Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the two agencies’ criticisms only showed that the administration’s efforts to deflect international criticism away from the deadly crackdown have failed.
“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has run up against the limits of his government’s campaign of denial and distraction to counter criticism of its ongoing ‘drug war’ killings,” said Phelim Kine, HRW Asia Division Deputy Director.
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) last week called on the Philippine government to stop extrajudicial killings in the pretext of a “war on drugs” and expressed concern that the police are “falsifying evidence to justify extrajudicial killings.”
It warned that failure to stop the killings may prompt suspension of export trade privileges under the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) trade scheme.
A day later, the US State Department’s annual human rights report described “a sharp rise” in extrajudicial killings and police impunity since the start of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign in 2016.
The State Department implied there is official support at the top levels of the Philippines government for the campaign, noting the President’s “numerous public statements suggesting that killing suspected drug traffickers and users was necessary to meet his goal of wiping out drug-related crime.”
In response to the criticism, Malacañang on Monday said government is “going by” the statements of President Donald Trump praising Duterte and his anti-drug campaign.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that he was “really lost” on how to read the report because there was a new US state department secretary who did not know how much input his predecessor had on the report.
“I think I heard words from President Trump praising President Duterte, including the war on drugs. If I’m not mistaken, President Trump said he knows what (President Duterte) doing,” he said in a press briefing.
Newly installed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Dir. Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde, on the other hand, told the European Parliament last week to show the basis of its accusation that 12,000 have died under the drug crackdown, calling the figure bloated and too high.
He said the PNP has been transparent since the crackdown was launched, noting that the police have religiously attended Senate probes on the issue.
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